CAT’s Senior Showcase – Review


        On Saturday, April 28, writers from The Prospector attended CAT’s Senior Showcase hosted to celebrate the outstanding work the seniors have accomplished this year.

        Exclusively featured to perform were the four stars of mini-musical “Lizzie.” The drama department’s rendition of the show was performed at the Annual Ohlone College High School Theatre Festival, earning third place in the Mini-Musical. Additionally, at Lenea High School Theatre Festival, the department was selected as design finalists for costume design for the play. By including the play in the showcase, the department hoped to commemorate the play for its unprecedented advancement to finals and accolade for musical theatre.  

        “Lizzie” is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden (Luna Conrad), an alleged murderer convicted for hacking her father and stepmother to death with an ax. In addition to Lizzie, the play includes Emma Borden (Pallavi Rajan), the oldest Borden sister; Alice Russell (Angela Lee), a neighbor and former lover of Lizzie Borden; and Bridget Sullivan (Briana Lingofelter), a maid working in the house during the time of the murder — all of whom are working together to protect Lizzie from punishment. Although Lizzie stands trial, she is eventually acquitted for inconclusive evidence.

        Said junior and head costume designer Ananya Bharath, “We chose Lizzie because it is an interesting story to both design a concept for and perform. We definitely liked that the musical Lizzie is a rock musical based on four women who are portrayed as strong and powerful, despite the fact that they lived during a time when society was very restrictive. They were able to stick together and overcome it.”

        When it came to designing concepts for the show and outfits for the characters, head costumers and finalists for design at Ohlone for Lizzie, Luna Conrad and Bharath experimented with ideas that matched the aesthetics of a Victorian era. To match its conservative elements with the musical’s punk rock genre, they made modifications that reflected the Riot Grrrl Movement.

        Said Bharath, “We designed the costumes to have a very simple black-colored base and colorful corsets that stood out to show the restrictive aspect of [Lizzie’s] society. The colors were loosely based on the jewel-toned colors seen on a pigeon since pigeons are used as a symbol for freedom in the second half of the musical.”

        The play was directed by musical director Katie Coleman, who made use of subtle theatrical techniques to convey the feelings, thoughts, and intensity of the characters. All four actresses took on the stage with an occasional headbang, sporadic turning and sudden singing. These forms of ‘blocking,’ a theatre term for the precisely choreographed actions, were used to match the artistic concept for the show and further express the story of the play through mediums aside from the script itself.

        Said senior Pallavi Rajan, “In musical theatre, switching from speaking to singing usually signifies a change in emotion, and there’s a lot going on in this number so, it also helps contrast the characters’ motivations and intentions.”

        In addition to “Lizzie,” CAT’s Senior Showcase featured their original, “Dr. Superman.” CAT senior Kayshav Prakash has been recognized as a revolutionary playwright in the amateur drama world through his production of the play. The act won various awards at the Lenaea Theatre Festival, including First Place for Writing — the first perfect score in the history of the festival — and Silver for Directing and Gold Overall. “Dr. Superman” follows Rushmika Subramanian (Pallavi Rajan), a Harvard-graduate doctor who moves to West Virginia to fill a vacancy at a local hospital and contribute to the poverty of the community. “Superman,” a play on the last name, “Subramanian,” alludes to the various misconceptions and stereotypes faced by those of minority races in America. As Rushmika tries to cope with the growing opioid crisis, her marriage takes a toll due to the hostility her family faces as immigrants in the American South. The show follows a unique, yet relatable story that can resonate with a large majority of the population at Cupertino, and we applaud Prakash for cleverly addressing such issues.

        The show’s seamless narration and intense scenes allowed for meaningful character development all throughout the show and portrayal of the abject condition of racial prejudice in America. The unresolved conflict between Sarah (Sam Kernaghan), an aspiring country singer, and Rushmika emulates the reality of problems rather than creating another illusion of happily-ever-afters.

        Said Prakash, “I ended the show the way it did because the issues at the heart of the play — racism, and opioid abuse — are ongoing unresolved issues, so having a complete resolution felt wrong. I still wanted Sarah and Rushmika to share a beautiful moment in the end, but all the issues in their lives are still left open.”

        Although “Dr. Superman” was not a musical, it concluded with an unexpected (but pleasant) duet between Rushmika and Sarah, blending the voices of southern folk songs and traditional Carnatic music. While the idea to overlay gospel and Carnatic melodies were indeed his own, Prakash attributes the musical composition to Pallavi Rajan and Sam Kernaghan.

        Said Prakash, “Music transcends wealth in both the American South and in India. In both of these cultures, music, faith, and identity intertwine in ways that stunningly mirror each other. While Sarah and Rushmika are polar opposites when it comes to their background, they can truly connect onstage through music. My hope is that adding the music will lessen the divide between the two cultures.”

        The Prospector staff is extremely proud of the accomplishments of CAT and their distinguished seniors. We are appreciative of the drama department for hosting us as well.